The Backyard Quarantine Ultra 2020 Race Report by Randy Cocek

A great race report, written in Randy’s signature style.

Things I learned on my run (Quarantine BYU #2 edition):

-Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result

-A backyard ultra is running the same 6.7k loop over and over until you (or everyone else) quits.

-The loop is the same.

-Quitting is different.

-So, by definition, quitting is insane.

-Well, the science checks out…

-This Saturday was the second ‘Quarantine Backyard Ultra’…

-An event inspired by the original Backyard Ultra, created by the mad genius behind the Barkley Marathons

-Virtual events are usually pretty low key, since the race venue is a Zoom call from each runner’s house.

-That is, unless you have a friend like

Rudi Asseer

(and his lovely wife, Kyla)…

-A person like that will arrange an event that will:

-have as many participants as is allowed during phase II of the pandemic re-opening

-have multiple tents set up to protect from rain and sun.

-have an incredible array of food and drink available.

-mark all the turns on the course with neon green tape.

-have an ice bath for when runners get too hot or need to soak their legs.

-install an arch spanning his street. And a professional grade timing clock.

-hire a massage therapist to be onsite for the runners’ convenience.

-convince multiple friends and colleagues to volunteer for over 24 hours.

-and (most importantly) fund raise over $26000 for the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa

-Needless to say, it was easily the best race setup of the year.

-The first couple of loops of a BYU are used to try and figure out the route, the landmarks and to dial in your pace.

-Using the landmarks, this loop could be described as this:

-Do 2 400m loops around the block.

-Turn right at the t-junction

-Turn right onto Greenbank

-Run past the Fire Station to the roundabout and turn right

-This is about 2.65k so far.

-Turn right at the first set of lights.

-Dodge the dog poo.

-Be on the lookout for a discarded shoe. This is the halfway point.

-Around 4.2k in, there’s a hill.

-At the top, there is a sumac pod on the ground.

-By the third loop, someone will have squashed it.

-Continue back to Greenbank again, turning right. Again.

-Right turn at the lights.

-Right turn on the first street after one named something like “Hemsworth”

-(When you get tired, this is how you remember things)

-Run under the arch.

-Do another 400m loop, because that isn’t at all soul crushing


-With this format, no one is trying to pass each other. Everybody is supporting everyone.

-Unless the local news shows up with a camera truck. Then you have to scramble to make sure that they get a good shot of you.

-The temperatures this week have been over 40C with humidex on a number of days. And sunny.

-Luckily, race day temperatures fell to mid-20s and it was overcast. Although there was a fair bit of humidity.

-I have issues running in the heat. So I made sure to have a plan that involved keeping hydrated with electrolyte drinks.

-I may have made a bit of an oversight on another part of my nutrition plan.

-As the day gets warmer, having an ice bath at the end of the loop is terrific.

-There are two ways to get into that tub: slowly. Or CANNONBALL!

-Guess which one I chose.

-I’m not saying I was overheated at times… But I did produce a lot of steam!

-In other virtual BYUs (or looped races), seeing others drop out can be motivating.

-In regular BYUs, it’s largely the same. The camaraderie is great, but in the end, everyone else is an opponent.

-In this one though… everyone is your teammate. Someone dropping out hits you pretty hard.

-Also, they taunt you with the beer they get to drink while you eat a couple of bites from a plain bagel and drink electrolytes

-Labels on electrolyte drinks are there so you know what they tried to make it taste like.

-Guessing what it was intended to be is a fun way to pass the time later on.

-Good races will have a large selection of various food for folks to eat.

-Great races will have someone cook up a fresh batch of mashed potatoes… (thanks again Kyla)

-I’ve been offered many different types of aid over my racing experience, including (but not limited to):


-pepto bismol tablets



-salt tablets






-But this was the first time I have ever been offered “Preparation H”.

-I still am not sure why I was asked that…

-As you run longer on hot days like this, changing your shirt and shoes is a luxurious feeling.

-It’s the best 5-10 minutes of the subsequent loop.

-After a half dozen or so loops, I had a pretty set game plan for the loops, that included 3 walk breaks.

-The best laid plans can go awry though.

-Especially if you’ve gone into a major caloric deficit.

-10 loops of this went very well, but part way through loop 11, things started to go haywire.

-By the 12th loop, my lack of calorie intake hit me pretty hard. By that point I had burned about 7000 calories.

-And I had taken in maybe 800. That is not a recipe for long term success.

-I had waited too long to long to start to take in food, and had gone past the point where I could.

-I was hoping on lap 13, that I might be able to take advantage of the lower temperatures, take it slow and recover over the next couple.

-But somewhere past the halfway shoe on lap 13, I looked up and realized… I wasn’t really sure where I was. Or how far I had gone.

-And that moment of clarity was enough to tell me that once I got back, it was over.

-I tapped out at 13 loops. Just a touch over 88k according to my watch.

-I would have liked to finish with a walking loop, but my body was done.

-Later that night, I found out that it’s possible to have your calfs, hamstrings and hips all cramp at the same time.

-It’s as wonderful as it sounds.

-All in all, it was a fantastic event. Rudi and Kyla went far far above what anyone could have expected for such a race.



to Rudi for completing 24 loops. 100 miles. Fantastic achievement!

Published by judyapiel

Runner, triathlete and coach. Owner of RunK2J, Community Events at Bushtukah. Always looking for a new travel adventure.

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